January 2020 Issue
by Mary Hunt
According to a survey conducted by Offers.com, the top two New Year’s resolutions in the U.S. for 2019 came in almost tied, with exercise more/lose weight at 38 percent and save money at 37 percent. So, how did that work out for you? Is your financial picture better now than it was 12 months ago? Are you more fit and lean?
The reason I love New Year’s is it feels like a clean slate—a fresh start. Whether you did great in 2019 or blew it altogether, I have good news. Today’s a new day—a new year—and a chance to start over or to do even better. We’ve been granted another opportunity. As for that saving money part, I have a great formula that’s been working for me and thousands of people I’ve led out of debt and into a lifestyle where they consistently live below their means.
Record Your Spending. Sounds like a silly instruction, especially if you feel overwhelmed and under deposited. Nonetheless, if you begin keeping a written record of every expenditure, I can promise you a couple of things: No. 1: You’ll hesitate before making silly, impulsive purchases. No. 2: You’ll start taking back control once you see where all of your money goes.
Give Back. I know. You’re broke. You have mountains of debt, and some idiot is suggesting you give money away. That’s right, and you can call me an idiot.
Giving is a mysterious, miraculous activity that will transform your life when practiced. Giving is the antidote for that wretched trend toward excess and self-indulgence.
Pay Yourself. Ideally you should pay yourself 10 percent right off the top of the amount of money you see in your paycheck. If you can’t start with 10 percent, start with something. Even if it’s $1 a week, start saving. Even if you are heavily in debt, start saving. Saving money is a great attitude booster, so if you’re discouraged and down in the dumps, start saving money!
Stop Debting. I know that’s not a real word, but I wish it were! It means buying stuff on credit because you don’t have enough to pay cash. Just stop spending money you don’t have. You may need to part with some credit cards and even shed a few tears, but you can stop. No one can force you $1 further into debt.
Reduce Expenses. If your income is less than your outgo, reduce the outgo. There’s no better way to make money than to cut expenses. The results are immediate, and the proceeds are tax-free. I would suggest from this moment that you pledge to cut expenses any way you can and a little bit in every area. This way, you will see dramatic results with the least amount of discomfort.
Rapidly Repay Debt. If you continue paying your creditors according to their payment schedule, you may never get out of perma-debt. Incurring no more new debt and prepaying principal is the key to rapid debt reduction.
Sell Assets. If you own things of value that are unnecessary in your life, or could be replaced at a later date, selling them could ease your financial situation.
Seek Solvency. Solvency means being content with the money you have. Solvency is that confident feeling of being prepared for any circumstance, of living with joy and peace—of living beneath your means.
There you go. A foolproof formula for 2020 that you can take to the bank. So, what are you waiting for? There’s no time to waste. Let’s go!
Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments, and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog and the author of the book Debt-Proof Living. (C) 2020 CREATORS.COM